Despite losing its welterweight champion, light heavyweight champion and eventually its entire heavyweight division, the Strikeforce mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is determined to soldier on with events on Showtime.
In fact, tonight (Sat., Jan. 7, 2012) the San Jose, Calif.-based organization will host its first event of the New Year as part of Showtime's free preview weekend. Leading the way is newly-minted middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, who will face former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contender, Keith Jardine, in a five-round war that pits the future of the sport against, perhaps, its past.
In addition to stars such as Muhammed Lawal and Robbie Lawler, other prospects abound, including Tyron Woodley, Jordan Mein, Tarec Saffiedine and Adlan Amagov, making for what's sure to be one heck of a 2012 debut.
And, if you know where to look, a profitable one.
Join me after the jump for a closer look at the odds behind Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine," which will emanate from "The Joint" at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada:
Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine" Undercard Odds:
Thoughts: There really isn’t that much here at the moment -- two of the three bettable bouts are pick-‘ems and the odds, unfortunately, reflect that. The other, Spang-Legere, features one fighter with only four bouts under his belt and another who’s significantly more experienced, but against lesser competition.
I’m a fan of Burrell since he beat up Joe Ray and I’m convinced he has plenty of upside, but Terry is a fine fighter himself. Unless Burrell gets to +175 or so, I’m leaving this one alone. Same with Villante-Smith, as Gian has lost two of his last three, but has the wrestling to make it a long and frustrating night for Smith.
Overall, just save your cash for the main card and curse the difficulty in watching Strikeforce prelims, because these are really good fights on Showtime later this evening.
Strikforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine Main Card Odds:
Tarec Saffiedine (-450) vs. Tyler Stinson (+300)
Tyron Woodley (-370) vs. Jordan Mein (+280)
Muhammad Lawal (-600) vs. Lorenz Larkin (+400)
Robbie Lawler (-170) vs. Adlan Amagov (+140)
Luke Rockhold (-550) vs. Keith Jardine (+375)
Thoughts: These are some very interesting odds. Let’s take a closer look.
I am of the firm belief that Saffiedine is one of the brightest prospects in the welterweight division. He’s not the best finisher, but he has phenomenally technical striking and ever-improving wrestling honed by Team Quest. Stinson has good power, but his submission defense is completely porous and, despite that power, I have my doubts that he can handle the karate prowess of Tarec.
Therefore, cram "The Sponge" into a parlay.
I’m not all that high on Woodley and am a big fan of Mein, but I just see this ending badly for the Canadian. Simply put, I’m not convinced of his ability to stay off his back or hurt "T-Wood" once there. Further, Mein isn’t the type of high-energy, swarming fighter Paul Daley is, making me doubtful of him gassing Woodley. The last wrestler of even comparable takedown prowess to Woodley (besides what’s left of Joe Riggs) was Jason High, who decisioned Mein in the latter’s absurd six-fight 2010 campaign. Based on Woodley’s stifling of Saffiedine and resilience against Daley, I consider him a decent bet despite the skewed odds.
Mein has a bright future, but the present is going to grind him into the floor.
"King Mo," Rafael Cavalcante fight notwithstanding, is, in my firm opinion, one of the very best light heavyweights in the world. When he doesn’t try (and fail) to be Roy Jones Jr., he has phenomenal chain wrestling, heavy hands and a truly unbelievable chin. I love watching Larkin fight, but he doesn’t have the type of thunderous power needed to put Lawal down standing, and his high-flying style of offense is just begging to be dragged to the ground.
Lawal is going to lay down the hurt on this one -- parlay him with some of the other favorites.
Amagov has arguably the best chance of any of the underdogs on the main card to pull off the upset, but unless the odds go up to the +175 range, it’s in your best interest to leave this fight alone. Lawler is one of the most dangerous punchers in the division, but he’s also incredibly frustrating. At times, he’s a force of nature, as seen by his starching of Lindland, but at other times, he’s content to sit back and lose the fight. He didn’t sufficiently engage the notoriously chinny "Babalu" and, despite having a tired Tim Kennedy right where he wanted him, refused to pursue and put him away. Amagov has demonstrated a beautiful array of kicks and some excellent throws, but he seemed a little too willing to engage in a sloppy brawl against Anthony Smith for me to recommend betting on him.
Until and unless the odds get more skewed, leave this one alone. Too many questions.
Let me go ahead and say it: Keith Jardine is boned. He’s only won three of his last 10 and that "draw" with Gegard Mousasi was, for lack of a better word, baloney. He’s making his first-ever cut to 185, which can mean anything good for his notoriously poor chin. His striking has been figured out, his wrestling isn’t great, and he really doesn’t have a submission game.
Rockhold, on the other hand, beat a consensus top-10 middleweight after being out for a year and a half. This is not complicated.
Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine" Best Bets:
Parlay: Saffiedine and Woodley -- $94 to make 51.94
Parlay: Lawal, Rockhold and Woodley -- $67.79 to make $50.94.
Get your Hello Kitty umbrellas and My Little Pony ponchos ready, Maniacs. A deluge of MMA is coming this weekend, which signals the start of a very busy 2012.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live Strikeforce results later this evening, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.
See you then, Maniacs!